Great British Menu: London chef to compete in final after training at world's best restaurants

10/10: Tom Kerridge gave the chef a perfect score (Great British Menu)
10/10: Tom Kerridge gave the chef a perfect score (Great British Menu)

A chef from London who started out the old fashioned way has wowed judges on the Great British Menu.

Kate Austen, from Chiswick, studied sociology at Newcastle University before asking for a job at Morston Hall in Norfolk with no experience or training.

Chef owners Galton Blackiston and Greg Anderson “took a chance” on the budding chef, and Austen went onto cook for Marcus Wareing before working her way up to head chef at two Michelin-star AOC in Copenhagen.

She later became sous chef at Frantzén, Stockholm, a three-star restaurant and one of the best in the world, and more recently worked for Gordon Ramsay in his development kitchen. She is now a private chef back home.

Austen, 30, competed in the London and Southeast region on the BBC’s Great British Menu, impressing the likes of head judge Tom Kerridge and presenter Andi Oliver and securing a place in the final.

Next month, viewers will discover whether Austen, who has long advocated for more women to enter the restaurant industry, has secured a place cooking at the final banquet, a standout moment for any professional chef.

After winning her region, she told the Standard: “You can see from my reaction how surprised I was to win the London region. It was such an emotional week. I didn’t perform as well as I’d wanted to in the starter and fish earlier in the week, and the possibilities for score changes happen so quickly. I was so flattered with Tom’s [Kerridge] comments particularly, but the whole experience was just really exciting, and I’m very grateful to have been included in the series.

“I’m heading to the finals and really keen to get at least one course to the banquet. No woman has ever won the main, so that’s what I’m super focused on. Cooking for Simon Rogan was also a personal dream.”

Kate beat Ashok Sharma to win her round, despite him being an early favourite with high scores at the start of the week. Kerridge called Austen’s fish dish “beautiful” and gave her dessert a perfect score. “I loved it so much I gave it a 10,” he said.

The final is on BBC2 at 8pm on Tuesday March 18 2024.